Companies House is the United Kingdom's registrar of companies and is an executive agency and trading fund of Her Majesty's Government. It falls under the remit of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and is also a member of the Public Data Group. All forms of companies are incorporated and registered with Companies House and file specific details as required by the current Companies Act 2006. All registered limited companies, including subsidiary, small and inactive companies, must file annual financial statements in addition to annual company returns, which are all public records. Only some registered unlimited companies are exempt from this requirement.The United Kingdom has had a system of company registration since 1844. The legislation governing company registration matters is the Companies Act 2006. Wikipedia.
News Article | April 14, 2017
The Labour party has said it would force big companies to publish full tax returns to expose any “sweetheart” deals that firms arrange with the taxman to potentially reduce their tax bills. Shadow chancellor John McDonnell said if Labour wins the next general election it would “close the loopholes through which large corporations swindle the public”. He said the “tax gap” between what companies should be paying and what is actually received by the exchequer amounts to some £36bn. Successive governments, including Theresa May’s administration, have pledged to crack down on multinational companies gaming the international tax system to pay less tax. But accusations persist that some multinationals have been allowed to arrange so-called “sweetheart” deals with firms, including Google, Vodafone and Starbucks, to pay nominal sums to settle investigations into allegations of years of tax avoidance. “Tax avoidance is a scourge on society that company secrecy laws help facilitate, and the Tories have done nothing to tackle it,” McDonnell said. “Labour will pour the disinfectant of sunlight on large company accounts, helping close down the loopholes and the scams that the tax dodgers rely on. “The Tories are running a rigged economy for the super-rich and giant corporate tax dodgers. Only Labour will stand up for workers and small businesses to make our tax system fair and our public services like education and the NHS protected.” Under Labour’s plans all companies with more than £36m in turnover or more than 250 employees would be required to file a complete tax return at Companies House along with annual accounts. Labour argued it was unfair that large companies are able to hire armies of accountants and lawyers and “wine-and-dine senior civil servants” in search of sweetheart deals, while smaller firms pay their taxes when they fall due. The publication of large company tax returns and related correspondence would expose any such deals, the opposition said. When parliament returns after the Easter recess on Tuesday, Labour will also push to strengthen measures to tackle tax avoidance in the finance bill. Peter Dowd, Labour’s shadow chief secretary, said: “The measures in the finance bill claiming to close tax loopholes do not go far enough and have gaping omissions, another Tory conjuring trick to hide their inaction in making sure that everyone, including the rich, pays their fair share of society’s upkeep. “There is nothing in the government’s proposals to address the chronic lack of enforcement in the context of the wider regulatory problems. As usual, the Tories are playing rhetorically to the gallery.” “This government has a simple message for those who avoid tax: you must pay what you owe and we will make sure you do. “After thirteen years of Labour doing nothing we have led the way on tackling tax evasion, avoidance and non-compliance, securing an additional £140bn in additional tax revenues since 2010. “All Labour would do now is wreck the economy with higher taxes, half a trillion in additional borrowing and a leader who says we should not be afraid of debt.”
News Article | April 10, 2017
Fashion chain Jaeger has collapsed into administration, putting 680 jobs at risk. The brand, which dressed Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe in its heyday, had been trying to find a buyer to keep its 46 stores going, but its owner threw in the towel on Monday and appointed administrators. The private equity owner of Jaeger, which dates back to 1884, has appointed administrators at Alix Partners after proving unable to find a buyer for a suggested price of £30m. The company has failed to turn a profit since private equity veteran Jon Moulton’s Better Capital bought the firm for £19.5m in 2012. Jaeger employs about 680 staff across 46 stores, 63 concessions, its head office in London and a logistics centre in King’s Lynn. Peter Saville, Ryan Grant and Catherine Williamson, joint administrators at Alix Partners, said they had been called in “at the request of Jaeger’s directors as a result of the company being unable to attract suitable offers”. “Regrettably, despite an extensive sales process, it has not been possible to identify a purchaser for the business,” Saville said. “Our focus now is in identifying an appropriate route forward and to work with all stakeholders to do this.” Last week Better Capital sold Jaeger’s debt to a company understood to be controlled by the retail billionaire Philip Day, who heads Edinburgh Woollen Mill. Insiders now expect most of Jaeger’s stores to close down, although the brand is likely to survive as part of the EWM stable, which includes Jane Norman, Peacocks and Austin Reed. Jaeger was founded as Dr Jaeger’s Sanitary Woollen System Co Ltd in 1884 by Lewis Tomalin, an accountant who was inspired by a health craze promulgated by Gustav Jaeger, a German professor of zoology. Jaeger believed people would be healthier if they dressed in clothing made from animal hair, wool and fleece. Earlier this year, Better Capital hired Alix Partners to flush out interest from potential partners or to find a buyer. Last year, Jaeger’s sales fell from £84.2m to £78.4m and it made a £5.4m pre-tax loss, according to accounts filed at Companies House. Jaeger is the latest in a long list of retailers to suffer from difficult trading conditions on the high street and the increased cost of imported materials due to the collapse of the pound. Jones Bootmaker was rescued by Endless in a pre-pack administration deal last week and 99p Stores was placed into administration in March. The 99p Stores chain collapsed less than two years after rival Poundland bought it for £55m. Andy Brian, head of retail at Gordons law firm, said: “This is another blow for the high street and, crucially, another indication of the huge consumer shift towards online shopping. Like BHS last year, Jaeger has failed to capitalise on the growth of online retailing. As a result, it has been left behind – and left struggling – where other fashion retailers have grabbed the opportunity. “Jaeger has relied on its concession model but it’s clear that having a bricks and mortar presence on the high street – even in this cost-effective way – is no longer enough. Online shopping is growing faster than ever and retailers must keep up, otherwise they will no longer be able to compete. Jaeger are not the only chain to have struggled with this shift – and we can expect more famous retail brands to go into administration this year for the same reasons.”
News Article | January 2, 2017
Harrods has been accused of shortchanging its restaurant staff in the latest row over how service charges added to diners’ bills are shared among workers. The union representing Harrods waiters and kitchen staff believes the Qatari owner of the upmarket London department store retains up to 75% of the service charge, a situation it says reduces their pay by up to £5,000 a year. The United Voices of the World union (UVW) says an unspecified percentage of the service charge collected at Harrods’ 16 cafes and restaurants is shared among the 483 kitchen and waiting staff. It is organising a demonstration outside the Knightsbridge department store on Saturday as part of a call for greater transparency. A Harrods spokeswoman confirmed that, like many businesses in the hospitality sector, the company operated a “tronc” system, whereby the service charge is shared out. “Harrods is taking steps to improve the current system through which it distributes its service charge, to ensure it best serves our employees and is completing a detailed review into the existing scheme,” she said. “As this is an ongoing review, we are unable to provide further details on the distribution. However, employees will be informed of the details of the new system as soon as the review is complete.” Petros Elia, the UVW general secretary, said: “Customers expect the service charge to go to staff and that’s where it should go. If Harrods feels the need to retain a percentage they should explain why.” What happens to the cash generated by the service charge applied to bar and restaurant bills has become a moot point. The TV chef Michel Roux Jr admitted in December that his Michelin-starred restaurant Le Gavroche classed service charge income as revenue rather than tips to be shared among staff. He has since said the restaurant would scrap the charge from the end of January. The chef also apologised following a Guardian report in November which revealed that Roux was paying some of his staff less than the minimum wage at his Mayfair restaurant, where the menu includes starters costing as much as £62.80 for lobster mousse with caviar and champagne sauce. Fortnum & Mason, another high-end London department store, is also trying to persuade staff at its Heathrow bar to move over to a tronc system.Fortnum & Mason does not currently distribute any of the 12.5% service charge collected on drinkers’ bills at Heathrow. Accounts filed at Companies House show that Harrods’ owner, Qatar Holding – the investment arm of the country’s sovereign wealth fund that acquired the store from Mohamed Al Fayed in 2010 for an estimated £1.5bn – paid itself a £100.1m dividend in 2016. That followed a record year in which pre-tax profits increased 19% to £168m. Sales rose 4% to £1.4bn in the year to 30 January 2016. The highest-paid director, presumed to be its managing director, Michael Ward, earned £1.6m. The retailer attracts high-spending overseas tourists and Ward told the Guardian that it had been insulated from the economic gloom emerging in the UK since the Brexit vote. “Christmas has been particularly strong this year,” he said, pointing to solid demand for bags, shoes and diamonds, with Yves Saint Laurent and Gucci among the most popular brands. “The top end of the market is always less affected than anyone else … from our perspective we’ve got great local customers plus we’ve seen more international customers come to London.” Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund, the Qatar Investment Authority, was founded in 2005 to help the Gulf state strengthen its economy by investing its oil and gas riches in other assets.
News Article | May 23, 2017
Notice is hereby given that a General Meeting of Global Graphics SE (the "Company") will be held at 2030 Cambourne Business Park, Cambourne, CB23 6DW, United Kingdom on 22 June 2017 at 09:00 hrs for the following purpose: To consider and, if thought fit, pass the following resolution which will be proposed as a Special Resolution: That the Company, being a Societas Europaea, be converted to a public limited company registered in England and Wales and that the draft terms of conversion (the "Draft Terms of Conversion"), the explanatory report (the "Explanatory Report") and the new articles of association (the "New Articles") as referred to in the Explanatory Notes enclosed with this Notice be and are hereby approved and that the New Articles be and are hereby adopted as the articles of association of the Company. A copy of the complete notice and other supporting information, including explanatory notes, requirements for proof of ownership of shares and the proxy form, is available for download from the investors section of the Company's web site at: http://www.globalgraphics.com/investors/legal-reorganization. Conversion to a PLC The Resolution asks shareholders to approve the conversion of the Company from a Societas Europaea to a public limited company registered in England and Wales (the "Conversion"). The Draft Terms of Conversion, Explanatory Report and New Articles referred to in the Resolution are available to view on the Company's website at http://www.globalgraphics.com/investors/legal-reorganization. The Company is currently subject to specific legislation which applies to a Societas Europaea ("SE Legislation"), as well as legislative and regulatory provisions in force in England and Wales which apply to an English public limited company generally (to the extent that such laws do not contradict the SE Legislation), including the Companies Act 2006. With effect from Conversion, the Company will be an English public limited company and the SE Legislation will cease to apply to it. As a result, the Directors are of the opinion that the Conversion will allow the Company to operate with increased efficiency in the context of a simplified legal regime. There are no significant economic aspects arising from the Conversion itself. However, the Directors believe that the Conversion and associated reduced exposure to the SE Legislation should serve to minimise any potential risk that the Company's SE status would be negatively affected by the exit of the UK from the EU. The Directors consider this to be a particularly important consideration in the current climate of uncertainty surrounding the economic implications of the UK's exit from the EU. Further, the form of a 'PLC' is a more well-established form than that of Societas Europaea. As such, there is greater legal certainty as to the effect of laws and regulations surrounding its operation, and it is consequently the Directors' belief that a PLC is a form with which third parties will be more familiar, which may result in an indirect positive economic benefit for the Company through the simplification of dealings with third parties. Simultaneously with the Conversion becoming effective, the Company will adopt new articles of association compliant with the Companies Act 2006 and a company operated and governed by UK corporate law. The Directors confirm that the articles of association proposed to be adopted on the Conversion are substantially in the same form as the existing statutes of the Company, save for amendments made to bring the document in line with current UK corporate law and practice. Consequently, on the Conversion, the shareholders will continue to enjoy materially equivalent rights under the Company's constitution as they do now. (i) Draft Terms of Conversion setting out the terms upon which the Conversion will be effected; (ii) an Explanatory Report explaining and justifying the legal and economic aspects of the Conversion and indicating the implications of adopting public limited company status for shareholders and employees; and (iii) New Articles which are suitable for an English public limited company. The Draft Terms of Conversion were filed with Companies House on 4 April 2017, notice of which was published in the Gazette on 11 April 2017. To effect the Conversion, the Company must also obtain a report from an independent expert, certifying that the company has assets at least equivalent to its capital. KPMG were appointed to provide this report, and provided the same to the Company on 28 March 2017. The Resolution to be proposed as a Special Resolution, seeks shareholder approval for: (i) the Conversion; (ii) the Draft Terms of Conversion; (iii) the Explanatory Report; and (iv) the adoption of the New Articles. If the Resolution is approved, Companies House will re-register the company as an English public limited company ("Re-Registration"). The New Articles will automatically become effective from the date of Re-Registration. The Board believes that the Conversion is in the best interests of the Company and its shareholders and recommends that shareholders vote in favour of the Resolution. Global Graphics SE (Euronext: GLOG) http://www.globalgraphics.com is a leading developer of platforms for digital printing, including the Harlequin RIP®. Customers include HP, Canon, Delphax, Roland, Kodak and Agfa. The roots of the company go back to 1986 and to the iconic university town of Cambridge, and, today the majority of the R&D team is still based near here. The font foundry, URW++ Design and Development GmbH, and the industrial printhead driver solutions specialists, Meteor Inkjet, are subsidiary companies of Global Graphics SE. Global Graphics also has offices in: Boston, US; Tokyo, Japan; and Hamburg, Germany.
News Article | May 25, 2017
The London Stock Exchange’s (LSE) latest annual ‘1,000 Companies To Inspire Britain’, has for the first time selected to profile in detail some of the enterprises within the green and sustainable arena that made the cut in this year’s study. Around £500 million (c.$650m) was generated in revenues last year by these dozen or so dynamic firms among the thousand and they are investing further. The 150-page publication from the LSE, the world’s second-largest financial market by number of companies listed, is the fourth edition of their annual report since 2013. It identifies the United Kingdom’s most dynamic small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and high growth potential companies and regions. SMEs are the lifeblood of the British economy and create up to two-thirds of all new jobs in the country, account for 60% of all private sector employment and around half (47%) of all private sector turnover in the UK. So we should be taking their contribution seriously. But right now, if one takes a look at the government’s ‘Building our Industrial Strategy’ consultation paper, Britain is on average one day a week less productive than France, Germany and the US. That’s a sobering thought. According to Xavier Rolet, CEO of the London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG) writing in a foreword to the current report “the best of British small business” are highlighted. The French-born exchange head, added: “Combined with the fact that the UK created a record number of 650,000 start-up firms in 2016, this report starkly illustrates the economic potential of the UK’s SME’s.” The report, which was based on data crunched by financial technology company DueDil, gives a platform to firms growing at “70% on average” that requires firms to have out-performed their sectors. In order to build the list, DueDil combined key financial performance indicators and sector benchmarks available via its online tool. Drilling down into how much the 1,000 companies that made the grade have grown from 2012 to 2016 by annual revenue size, the £6m-£50m segment (833 companies) witnessed 68% growth, the £50m-£100m revenue bracket (112 companies) saw 72% growth and the £100m-£200m segment (44 companies) reached 139%. To qualify for selection, companies have to be registered and active in the UK (companies whose parent is incorporated in a foreign country are excluded, except for specific tax shelters). While Ltd., PLC and LLP entities are all considered, investment vehicles and funds are excluded, as are charities and non-profit organizations. The independent company or consolidated group revenues had to be in the range of £6m to £250m based on latest Companies House filings, with entities incorporated within the past three years (i.e. after November 1, 2012) excluded. Each company’s average turnover growth rate was calculated over a three-year period and based on four sets of accounts - where four were available. The biggest industry sector represented in terms of the number of companies in this year’s report - engineering and construction (134 companies) - is followed by financial services (82). Thereafter it is retail (63), manufacturing (60), professional services (59) and food and beverage (58). Over 50% of the companies hark form outside London and the south-east of the country, with more than 35% coming from the regions of the Northern ‘Powerhouse’ (97 in the North West of England/42 in Greater Manchester) and Midland’s Engine (80 in the West Midlands, 76 in the East Midlands and six from Birmingham). The average annual revenue growth in the West Midlands was 60% between 2012 and 2016. The UK snapshot published in recent days this May also revealed that 288 companies are based in the Greater London, 119 in the South East of England, 100 in the East of England, while are 73 represented from the Yorkshire and The Humber region, with 57 in the South West of England (seven being in Devon). Scotland accounted for 41 companies in the list with the average annual growth in the region being 91% over the period 2012-2016. SMEs play a pivotal role in the Scottish economy, with 348,000 such entities operating in this region and providing an estimated 1.2m jobs. The majority of fast growing companies represented in the study are micro-companies, with annual revenues ranging from £6m to £50m. Rolet stated that: “We need to help more of these smaller companies to scale-up to the next level and beyond.” He added: “While debt may be a suitable funding tool to help established blue-chip firms, it is ill-suited to help SMEs, entrepreneurs and high-growth potential companies.” But today around 80% of UK SME lending is still in the form of debt. And, small companies taking on a bank loan must prioritize managing that debt - or risk default - rather than using all their human and financial capital to innovate and grow. Traditionally UK corporate finance has been skewed towards supporting larger established blue-chip companies, entities that over the last decade have grown slowly and created relatively few net new jobs. These large firms rely mainly on debt to manage and re-finance their obligations. And, last year the British and European governments spent around €570 billion (c.$640bn) of taxpayers’ money subsidising corporate debt. Against this backdrop Rolet contended: “What they [SMEs] need is long-term ‘patient’ capital, like equity, where people seek investment to grow their business either through individual investors, on capital markets, or through crowdfunding and peer-to-peer platforms.” He added: “They need capital to flow directly from investors to risk-takers, innovators, entrepreneurs and small business owners up and down the country, instead of being concentrated through a few big banks. Finance must come from the bottom up, not top down.” As an aside, the LSEG’s ELITE initiative, a business support and capital raising programme to develop high growth private companies launched by Borsa Italiana (part of the LSEG) in 2012 and rolled out across the UK in 2014, comprises companies that today generate combined revenues of £35bn (c.$45.35bn) and account for over 175,000 jobs in Europe and further afield. Currently this initiative supports over 700 global companies from across over 26 countries in more than 30 sectors, including almost a hundred in Britain (four of which are profiled in this year’s report). According to Luca Peyrano, CEO of ELITE, stated: “Together, the 1000 Companies to Inspire Britain reports and ELITE have an integral role to play in championing the best of Britain’s businesses and channelling growth to the innovators, job creators and stars of tomorrow.” From recycling to electric vehicles and green bonds, a growing number of UK businesses are meeting rising consumer demand for environmentally friendly products and business practices. Providing evidence for this it has been estimated that there are 96,500 low-carbon and renewable energy businesses in the UK, which generate a total annual turnover of £46.2bn (c.$60bn). While Green/sustainable companies have been included in all four editions of the report since 2013, the latest edition marks the first time the exchange has profiled some in detail. Companies categorized as ‘Green’ in the report this time around include entities operating in the automotive, building materials, engineering and construction and manufacturing, financial services, food and beverage, waste management and wholesale sectors. Their annual revenues range from £10m-£20m right up to £100m-£150m in the case of Fern Trading, London-based financial services firm. An LSE spokesperson revealed that the whole exercise to produce the report took around six months and that the green segment presented is not a definitive list given that some companies in other sectors may have an element in their businesses pursuing green activities. Highlighting the exchange’s own green credentials, the LSE has 39 green bonds listed in London that to date have raised a total of around $10bn. POD Point located in London, which generates revenues in the £6m-£10m range and is building a national network in the UK of vehicle-charging points to facilitate mass adoption of electric vehicles. So far the company has supplied over 27,000 charging points, which have been placed in businesses, people’s homes and a variety of public places. Erik Fairbairn, POD Point’s CEO and founder, commenting said: “We’re only just beginning and think that the UK will need over one million charge points by 2020. The mass adoption of electric vehicles is going to be transformational for our business.” He revealed that the company is “doubling staff” each year and sees that level continuing for the foreseeable future. While electric vehicles currently account c.1.5% of all new cars sold in the UK now, POD Point forecasts that this figure will rise to around 10% by 2020 and 95% by 2030. Another to make the list in the green space, Good Energy, which is based in the South West of England and has annual turnover in the range of £50m to £75m, is one of the UK’s 100% renewable electricity supplier-and-generator companies. The firm is helping to transform the UK energy market into one that is far more sustainable. It sells electricity to businesses and homes from over 1,000 renewable energy sites, including wind farms in Cornwall and Yorkshire and a solar park in Dorset. All the electricity they provide is derived from harnessing local, natural sources like sunshine, wind, rain and biofuels. It has furthermore invested in a tidal lagoon in Swansea Bay and recently started a peer-to-peer energy trading platform for businesses. Juliet Davenport, CEO of Good Energy who founded the business in 1999, stated: “We’ve been well placed to capitalize on increased consumer awareness of competition and customers moving away from the big, old-fashioned energy companies.” She added: “Many are looking for a supplier they can trust with good service and the opportunity to buy 100% renewable electricity. And, the consumer trend towards ethical companies and businesses with a purpose also makes us attractive.” While there are plenty of firms offering renewable energy these days, Ecotricity, whose growing fleet of wind and sun parks generate energy for almost 200,000 UK customers, can say it has been there from the very beginning having been founded in 1995 by Dale Vince. It claims to be the world’s first-green energy company. They have also built the Electric Highway with around 300 electricity pumps, and touted as “Europe’s most comprehensive charging network - allows vehicles to travel the length and breadth of Britain,” Vince noted. Last October the company was granted permission to build their first green gas mill in Hampshire. “We focus on sustainability, particularly across the three biggest sources of carbon emissions, transport and food,” stated Vince. Recently the company has been expanding in the transport sector by taking advantage of progress with electric vehicles. On this score they have built their own electric super car, the Nemesis, to show how cars without oil could look and feel. “The coming years will be all about technology enabling a very different type of energy grid,” Vince stated. “We are moving towards people making their own power at home. The old top-down model is dead.” Ecotricity has indicated that it plans to continue expanding the number of charging sites to meet growing demand from electric car owners. They have eyed other opportunities too including innovation in the water sector and are committed to making ‘green’ gas from grass. Other companies listed in the green segment include: Biogen (£20m-£30m annual revenue, London based); Chargemaster Plc (£10m-£20m revenues, East of England); Evo Green (6m-£10m revenues, East of England); First Mile (£10m-£20m revenues, London); Forest Fuels in Okehampton, Devon (£6m-£10m, South West England); Greencroft Bottling., one of the largest contract wine bottlers in the UK (£40m-£50m, North East England); Natural World Products (£20m-£30m, County Antrim, Northern Ireland); and, Summerleaze operating in waste management and renewable energy (£20m-£30m, South of England). The full report, which can be downloaded here, contains expert contributions from the British Private Equity & Venture Capital Association, the CBI, ScaleUp Institute and Tech City UK amongst others. It was sponsored by HSBC, stockbroking firm Cenkos, UK national broadsheet The Telegraph and the Business Growth Fund, which has invested in over 160 companies across the UK. Follow Roger, who has penned various investment stories over the years, on Twitter @AitkenRL, LinkedIn, Forbes, Google+. He is involved with the Campaign For Fair Finance in the UK.
News Article | September 21, 2016
Amber Rudd’s business career has come under scrutiny following a Guardian investigation that reveals her involvement with two companies in an offshore tax haven, and another where her co-director was jailed for fraud. A fresh leak of tax haven data names the home secretary as having been a director of two companies in the Bahamas – a fact she did not refer to earlier this year when defending David Cameron over his father’s investment fund in the same country. The Guardian has also discovered new details about her previous career in venture capital during the boom and bust 1990s. One enterprise led her to become a co-director of Monticello, a company that was at the centre of a share ramping investigation. She was also involved in a company prospecting for diamonds in Siberia that was traded on a notoriously unregulated stock exchange. Rudd said that her career in business prior to politics was public knowledge but declined to answer questions, including whether she had invested in the Bahamas companies or whether either company had paid tax in the UK. A rising star of the Conservative party, Rudd has provided scant details about her career before she became an MP in 2010. Though there is no suggestion she was involved in any wrongdoing, the disclosures may cause her some embarrassment, particularly as pressure grows to crack down on tax avoidance and governments demand more transparency from offshore regimes. The home secretary’s name appears in a cache of company data from the Bahamas, a Caribbean tax haven that imposes no income, corporate or wealth taxes on individuals investing in offshore companies. The data, leaked to the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, constitutes a list of directors of 175,000 Bahamas registered companies. The files name Rudd as having been a director of two Bahamas companies, Advanced Asset Allocation Fund and Advanced Asset Allocation Management, between 1998 and 2000. Records at Companies House also identify her as a director of Monticello plc, which became the centre of an investigation into share ramping after one of her co-directors, Mark O’Hanlon, gave an interview in January 2000 in which he made false claims about the company’s prospects. Monticello’s share price subsequently skyrocketed and trading on its shares was suspended. Rudd resigned as a board member five months later, two days before she also resigned as director of Advanced Asset Allocation Management. The episode led the Department of Trade and Industry to investigate, and in 2007 O’Hanlon was convicted of making a false statement and sentenced to 18 months’ imprisonment. He was jailed again in June 2013 following an unrelated fraud conviction. Prior to Monticello, Rudd was involved in a number of other ventures. The Guardian can disclose she was: Shares in both Kensington and Siberian were traded on the Vancouver Stock Exchange, which prior to its closure in 1999 had a reputation for being poorly regulated. A report commissioned by the finance ministry of British Columbia described a small number of successful enterprises “overshadowed by the continuing occurrence of shams, swindles and market manipulations”. Rudd supported Cameron earlier this year after the Panama Papers revealed the inner workings of his father’s Blairmore fund, which was run from the Bahamas and incorporated in Panama. Although legal, the unorthodox structure resulted in the fund paying no tax in Britain for three decades. When interviewed on BBC1’s The Andrew Marr Show after Cameron admitted he had previously held shares in Blairmore, Rudd said: “I think the key thing is here that the prime minister and his family paid the correct amount of tax that they were due.” When asked if she had money in any offshore trusts herself, Rudd replied: “I don’t, no. But I’m pleased to say that all MPs have a very transparent system. They have to disclose their funds, their income, and of course famously a very clear expenses regulatory system.” She did not mention her previous role running a Bahamas fund. A spokesperson for the home secretary said: “It is a matter of public record that Amber had a career in business before entering politics. Monticello was thoroughly investigated 16 years ago and those who acted wrongly were identified and prosecuted.”
News Article | May 25, 2017
It marks the first time the producer has extended to Italian sparkling wines and comes at a time when Cava sales have seen more sluggish growth than the buoyant sales of Prosecco. As reported by db yesterday, last year British consumers drank nearly a third of the total annual production of the sparkling drink, or around 112.7 million bottles of DOC Prosecco. The company said the new Freixenet Prosecco was created “when the brand recognised the potential in the varietal, and identified a need for a high-quality product that would appeal to the nation’s vast consumer base of Prosecco drinkers”. It also claimed it had found “the perfect Prosecco flavour profile for the British palate”. Liza Madrigal, marketing director UK & global travel retail for Freixenet, said the drink came with the “reassurance of quality” of the Freixenet name, and was “not just another Prosecco”. “With our team in the renowned Veneto region employing technical expertise, we’ve produced a wine that we are enormously proud to include in our range,” she said. “We’re confident in this new product bringing us even closer to becoming the number one choice for sparkling wine with consumers, whilst continuing to add value to the category,” she said. The new Freixenet Prosecco has been listed in Ocado and Tesco (RRP £12.00). The move comes just under a year after the UK subsidiary of the Spanish parents company saw sales and profits hit by rising competition from Prosecco and changes within the UK retail market. According to records filed at Companies House in July, turnover at the UK subsidiary in the year to 30 April 2016 fell nearly 3% (2.77%) to £15.88 million, down from £16.34 million in the previous year – although this did mark an improvement on the previous year, when sales had fallen 20% from £20.68 million.
News Article | May 23, 2017
A group of suppliers owed millions of pounds by the collapsed fashion retailer Jaeger is considering taking legal action against its former owners. The companies, which include the Portuguese clothing supplier Calvelex, had tried to mount a rescue bid after Jaeger entered administration last month but found they could not buy the business because the rights to use the name had been sold to a mystery buyer. “We were very disappointed with this situation and question the thinking behind selling the intellectual property of the Jaeger brand name before the company went into administration since without it the value to potential bidders would be greatly reduced,” said the Calvelex boss, César Araújo, who is leading the consortium. Araújo said the group was considering other options, including the possibility of “court action to examine the actions of the company directors and the former owners of Jaeger”. Jaeger, which employed almost 700 people, collapsed into administration last month. So far administrators have closed 20 of its 46 stores, making more than 200 staff redundant. Fashion retailers are facing tough trading conditions as Britons stay away from the high street. Several thousand retail jobs are at risk as Store Twenty One, the value fashion chain, and the owner of clothing brands Jacques Vert, Windsmoor and Eastex face a financial crunch. Jaeger was owned by Jon Moulton’s private equity firm Better Capital for five years. In its heyday, Jaeger dressed Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe but more recently it had struggled to turn a profit on a competitive high street. After spending several years trying to revive the retailer’s fortunes, Better Capital hoisted a for sale sign at the start of this year. A buyer failed to emerge and, at the end of March, Better Capital sold Jaeger’s debt for £7m to a buyer who has been named in reports as Edinburgh Woollen Mill owner, Philip Day, who bought Austin Reed out of administration last year. However, the identity of the buyer has not been officially confirmed. Ten days later the administrators were called in. The owner of Jaeger’s debts is a secured creditor so ranks ahead of other parties, such as suppliers and landlords, in the queue to be repaid from the proceeds of the administration. Last year, Jaeger’s sales fell from £84.2m to £78.4m and it made a £5.4m pre-tax loss, according to accounts filed at Companies House. In the accounts, which were signed off on 13 July 2016, the directors said Better Capital had provided an undertaking to provide financial support for at least another 12 months from that date. Asked about the threat of legal action, Moulton told the Guardian that Better Capital had gone to great lengths to find a buyer for Jaeger. “Extensive efforts were made to find a buyer and buyers certainly had a chance to bid in any format,” he said. “The transaction was effectively to sell control of Jaeger, including its brand, and was done without insolvency. Any insolvency actions lie with the [Better Capital] fund’s successor.” Araújo is also calling on the government to review the protection offered by insolvency laws as, after a string of retailer collapses, it was becoming increasingly difficult for international suppliers to do business in the UK. “A sale of secured debt should have to be disclosed to the creditors generally,” he said. “Many suppliers believe that it is high time the British government urgently undertake a review of the laws relating to UK insolvency to provide a more ethical, moral and level playing field that gives all creditors access to information and the opportunity to have input into the future of companies in administration.”
News Article | May 14, 2017
Anti-corruption investigators in four countries are examining a British firm’s links to a multimillion-pound defence deal involving a former Nigerian warlord. Investigators in the UK, the US, Nigeria, and Norway are scrutinising Cas-Global after it was alleged that the firm paid a bribe to a Norwegian official as part of the sale of seven decommissioned naval vessels. The case has not yet been resolved but is set to take a significant turn on Tuesday when the verdict in the first court case arising out of the allegations is due to be announced in Oslo. In the UK, Cas-Global has been the subject of an investigation since 2014 by the City of London police’s specialist anti-corruption unit. The investigation is part of an effort by the UK to improve its record on prosecuting companies who are said to pay bribes to foreign officials and politicians to land contracts overseas. For many years, the UK has been castigated for failing to prosecute firms for this type of corruption. In a report to be published on Monday, campaigners from the UK anti-bribery group, Corruption Watch, also criticise the British government for failing to spot what they believe are signs of potential corruption when Cas-Global was given an export licence in the deal – claims rejected by ministers. The nature of Cas-Global’s business is not apparent from its accounts filed at Companies House since it was set up in 2008. Last month, Companies House declared that it was intending to dissolve the firm as it appeared to be moribund. The firm could not be reached for comment. The Norwegian authorities are prosecuting a civil servant, Bjørn Stavrum, over allegations that he was paid $154,000 by Cas-Global to help secure the sale of the naval vessels. Stavrum denies the claims. According to the indictment, Stavrum, who was responsible for the sale, was paid the money directly into his bank account in two instalments in 2013. “The payments were improper, among other things because of Stavrum’s position, the amounts involved, and because they were kept hidden from his employer,” the indictment alleges. Prosecutors allege that the payments were designed to disguise how the vessels were being sold to a former Nigerian warlord, Government Ekpemupolo – a purchase that would have needed an export licence from the Nordic authorities. Ekpemupolo has denied being involved in corruption. The City of London police said its detectives “continue to actively investigate the suspected bribery of a Norwegian public official in connection with the purchase of ex-naval vessels from 2012 onwards. The joint investigation with the Norwegian authorities has led to the arrest of four men.” The City of London police added its detectives “are also liaising with the American and Nigerian authorities in respect of enquiries connected to financial transfers”. The export of the vessels has been investigated by Corruption Watch which has used the freedom of information act to obtain documents about the case. The campaigners say that the case demonstrates the need to strengthen anti-corruption measures when export licences are being awarded. Paul Holden, Corruption Watch’s investigations director, said: “The UK government is clearly open to charges of hypocrisy if, on the one hand, it urges countries like Nigeria to fight corruption, while making no effort to prevent corruption in its own export licence process.” Mark Garnier, junior minister at the Department for International Trade, rejected the claims, saying: “The government does not think that it is appropriate to base an assessment merely on the perception of corruption in the destination country.”
News Article | May 12, 2017
A five-year old British virtual simulation startup, co-founded by Cambridge computer science graduates, has been valued at more than $1bn after raising $502m (£390m) from Japan’s SoftBank. The investment in the London-based firm Improbable is thought to be the largest made in a fledgling European tech firm. Improbable uses cloud-based software to create virtual worlds for use in games as well as large-scale simulations of the real world. The capabilities of the company’s technology have been likened to The Matrix, in which humans plug into a simulated world powered by computers. The business was co-founded in 2012 by Herman Narula, 29, and Rob Whitehead, 26, who met while studying computer science at the University of Cambridge, and Peter Lipka, 28, an Imperial College graduate who worked at Goldman Sachs before launching Improbable. The three co-founders hold a majority equity stake in Improbable – meaning they share a paper fortune of more than half a billion dollars – with Narula holding enough voting rights to control the company. They are not taking any cash out of the business as a result of the investment. SoftBank, which has put its managing director, Deep Nishar, on Improbable’s board, will have only a minority stake in the business. Narula, Improbable’s chief executive, said the company held talks with multiple investors but after a trip to Tokyo it was decided that Softbank had an “alignment of vision that made them the obvious choice”. Narula and Whitehead, the chief technology officer, met at a dissertation review at Cambridge’s computer lab, where they discovered “a mutual interest in multiplayer games and virtual worlds” that put them on the path to creating the software that underpins Improbable. “We talked about so many games and so many ideas about how games are made and run,” Narula said. “We believe the next major phase in computing will be the emergence of large-scale virtual worlds.” Narula was born in Delhi, India; he moved to the UK when he was three and attended Haberdashers’ Aske’s boys school. He taught himself to write code using C++ at 12 and chose to pursue a career in computing rather than entering the family construction business. After meeting Whitehead, a Liverpudlian who bolstered his student funds by making virtual weapons and selling them on the online virtual world of Second Life, he launched Improbable in 2012, months before graduating from university. Improbable’s early days followed a familar tech startup path: credit cards were maxed out to buy equipment and a friends and family loan got them through the first couple of years in a converted barn next door to Narula’s family home in north London. Staffers ate, slept and coded there, with Narula and Whitehead reportedly holding interviews in the shower room. The firm – which is now based in Farringdon, close to the so-called “silicon roundabout” tech hub in Shoreditch, east London – employs about 200 staff. It recently opened offices in San Francisco. Narula is keen to distance the firm from the stereotypical US tech startup, as satirised in the TV show Silicon Valley, saying the founders seek to cultivate a distinctive British culture. However, Improbable does offer perks including unlimited holidays, free breakfast and lunch, and a so-called life concierge to “relocate families, organise parties, order pizza and service bikes”. Before SoftBank’s investment, Improbable raised $20m in 2015 from backers, including US venture capitalist Andreessen Horowitz, which supported Facebook and Twitter, valuing the firm at $100m. Improbable’s other investors include Horizon Ventures, and a fund run by British tech investor Saul Klein and David Rowan, editor-at-large at Wired magazine. Improbable’s technology SpatialOS, which enables the creation of massive simulations – “virtual worlds” – is still in beta mode and has not been publicly launched. The company is working with Bossa Studios on launching a giant multiplayer game called World’s Adrift with one virtual area “the size of Wales”. The company made a loss of £8m in the year to the end of May 2016, according to the most recently available figures at Companies House. This was up on a 2015 loss of £3.9m. Improbable’s assets were valued at £20m in 2016, up from £10.2m in 2015. Japan’s SoftBank, founded by Masayoshi Son, has developed a taste for UK tech firms after controversially buying Arm Holdings, the Cambridge-based chip designer , after the Brexit vote last year for £24.3bn. Son, 59, is a serial dealmaker who has never shied away from ruffling feathers in his three decades building the tech to telecoms conglomerate. In 2012, he faced criticism when the company revealed a $22bn plan to take control of US mobile phone network Sprint, in what was the biggest foreign acquisition by a Japanese company at the time. Son, Japan’s richest man with a $21bn fortune, has built a Softbank investment portfolio that includes Vodafone’s Japanese business, Yahoo Japan and a humanoid robotics unit. A prescient move to take a $20m position in Jack Ma’s Alibaba paid off after it grew to be worth $65bn after the Chinese e-commerce’s site’s IPO in 2014. Son, born in Japan and of Korean heritage, shocked investors last year and abruptly lost his heir apparent, former Google high-flyer Nikesh Arora, after reneging on an agreement to hand over the reins on his 60th birthday this August. He plans to stay on at least another five to 10 years. “I asked myself whether I have run out of energy and ambition,” Son said. On Friday, it emerged that SoftBank, Sprint’s largest shareholder, and Sprint have had informal contact with T-Mobile owner Deutsche Telekom about a potential merger.